Bosch Rexroth: Finding the right balance

Two Bosch Rexroth veterans discuss the diversity and versatility of the company’s minerals processing portfolio of components and solutions and how to find a balance between high power and fine control. Australian Mining writes.

Bosch Rexroth’s ‘top-to-tail’ approach to minerals processing draws on the precision of its parent company’s experiences as a supplier in the demanding German automotive industry.

It made its name there as an end-to-end service provider noted for its precision, enabling the company to partner with others throughout the entire lifecycle of a project or operation.

Nothing has changed for Bosch Rexroth since its emergence as a major supplier of hydraulic systems for minerals processing within the mining industry.

Mine site servicing incorporates not just repairs, but predictive maintenance integration, site analysis and future proofing, operational aspects Bosch Rexroth can work closely with both OEM’s and mine site operators to improve performance.

Laurence Smithers, an applications engineer at Bosch for 18 years, cites an example of this holistic approach when discussing a well-known Australian mine that needed help. The site, which that had been operating for some 15 years, required continual repairs on brake calipers for numerous conveyor take-up winches.

“There were lots and lots of dollars involved in it,” Smithers tells Australian Mining.

“We got involved with our service technicians, looking at what was going on and through a couple of site meetings with the mine site reliability engineers, divulged that the calipers had been poorly specified for the application from day one.”

“We got together and selected a suitable brake from a fully affiliated Bosch Rexroth third party company that we do a lot of work with. We were able to engineer a complete solution to suit the existing winches, put in place a new hydraulics system and provided sensors so the mine would not encounter problems in future. A critical part to this was the phasing of the installation/commissioning that had to be completed during mine operations and maintenance shuts.

Bosch Rexroth’s minerals processing applications are found in a number of different industries, running the gamut from factory/automation, agriculture to construction to quarries.

When it comes to the latter, typical applications where the company’s drives are found include crushers, thickeners, filter presses, bucket wheels, conveyors, ball and SAG mills and take-up winch systems.

Given the variety of applications, there is a palpable need to offer the mining industry a solution that maintains a careful balance of toughness and user control.

“You don’t want a Mini for the job of a V8 supercar,” Smithers explains.

“We need to give customers something that’s fit for purpose, and that involves sourcing the correct Bosch Rexroth product for longevity — it’s all about understanding the application and customers, expectations from day one and getting that process right.

Bosch Rexroth incorporates an extensive service team that is experienced with mining applications. The team includes over 80 technicians in Australia alone, ensuring that mining companies find the right fit for their minerals processing applications. The service culture extends overseas as well, Smithers explains.

“We can’t cover everything in Australia but we do have a really good support network with a number of key distributors who are fully affiliated with Bosch Rexroth and who will support our customers with our backing,” he says. “We’re customer focused and people give us the work, so we give them the interest.”

Hägglunds, a direct drive manufacturer integrated into Bosch Rexroth since 2011, is an important element of the company’s minerals processing success.

Its primary focus as a Large Hydraulic Drive (LHD) is on direct drives, designed for general operations; and inching drives, which are primarily used for slow-speed operation to investigate problems and facilitate maintenance and repair of objects like conveyors and mill liner plates.

According to Bosch Rexroth New South Wales sales and service manager Peter Hopewell, the company’s design engineers have a thorough understanding of such applications to properly tailor designs for each mine site.

“Certainly one of our biggest strengths in that area is our external service department,” says Hopewell. “If you don’t understand the application, you’ll end up with a machine that doesn’t work or is down all the time.”

A 28-year veteran of the company, Hopewell considers the Bosch Rexroth service team to be among the most well equipped service technicians in the industry when it comes to minerals processing expertise.

“These guys can handle anything from a minor issue with a particular piece of mine equipment, through to major breakdowns, to entire modernisation projects,” he says.

And modernisation is a key phrase for Bosch Rexroth. Industry 4.0 integration, connected hydraulics and predictive maintenance technology are all areas in which the company endeavours to improve mine site processing.

“At the moment we’re putting sensors into every solenoid valve, so in the future we can monitor how many cycles the valve has done,” he says.

“We know when it’s going to fail, when it’s energised and so on – that’s all information the mine sites can use to produce a much more efficient system.”

Hopewell concludes: “Our design engineers have to understand the application and they design around that understanding. If you don’t understand the application, you’ll end up with a machine that doesn’t work or is down all the time. It’s all about having the right tool for the right job.”

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